I don't think that he was right - I think it's nitpicking that obscures the real essence of what instinct means. Transcending something doesn't mean removing it, it just means moving beyond it. Correct me if I'm wrong (no, seriously, I'm on my phone at work and can't effectively research it) but I'm pretty sure that animals can be conditioned or modified out of following instinct, and in this case humans are the animals in question; we've changed ourselves, but we haven't made ourselves from entirely new materials. Sure, unused attributes may evolve away in time, but I think these urges are so basic to what we are that we would no longer recognizably be the same creatures without them, even if they usually aren't manifest - and I say usually because they do kick in when needed, in life or death situations, any time the transcendence of reason fails. Maybe they are in that process of atrophying away, but it would make more sense if they were only sleeping.
I thought this back then, though I wasn't able to articulate it in the face of his adamance - but right now I swear I'm learning it through the teachings of my own body. It's a strange feeling.
I'm not hungry. It's due to a drug that I am administering to myself with my own hands - I can point to the marks on my belly that prove it. I know that my appetite's abandonment is artificial, that now that the nausea's passed there's no real problem. I know that this will have a benefit for me - that my body's signals were messed up enough, through whatever means, that answering my desires as they were was harmful to me, and this is an interrupt of that broken system. I know there are risks that come with this drug, and that even though I deemed them acceptably low, I should be checked to make sure I'm not in that small unfortunate percentage, but there's nothing wrong with what's perceptibly happening to me.
I know all of this... and yet there's a thrumming, a resounding call, a repeating cry coming from my center, from sternum to gut, that says something is wrong, wrong, wrong. When the belly is empty it should speak, demand to be fed. Now the belly is silent: it does not growl; it does not sing; it does not even ache. It doesn't care about anything and I'm realizing that it's one of my centers of passion, and without its input there's a loss of light, like having a thin gray cloth obscure the sun ever so slightly.
You know it's real when I pull out the prose stylings, yo.